Energy

In a radio interview , Prime Minister Tony Abbott raised what he described as the “potential health impacts” of wind farms.

If you are a hunter and accidentally shoot an endangered eagle, you could go to jail and you will certainly have a criminal record. If you are a wind turbine company, you kill 100 eagles a year and pay a token fine.  An estimated 75 to 110 golden eagles die at a wind-power generation operation in Altamont, California each year. That is about one eagle for every 8 megawatts of energy produced yet no one is in Federal prison. 


When government scientists determined that there would be negligible environmental impact due to the Keystone XL pipeline, another 400 miles of new, safer pipeline in an area where 20,000 miles of older pipeline already existed were not going to ruin the ecology, President Barack Obama ordered them to study it again.


Methane has 23X the short term warming impact of CO2 but, it was noted by environmentalists when they used to advocate for natural gas, methane is very short-lived and the amount released due to natural gas usage is negligible.

Yet now the Environmental Protection Agency is looking for ways to punish the booming natural gas industry and they are citing methane as a problem.

It's an old joke: Practical nuclear fusion power plants are just 30 years away -- and always will be.


Maybe sooner, this time. Advances in magnet technology have led researchers at MIT to propose a new design for a practical compact tokamak fusion reactor that might be realized in as little as a decade, they say. Practical fusion power, should it ever happen, could offer a nearly inexhaustible energy resource.

The key is new commercially available superconductors, rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tapes, to produce high-magnetic field coils "just ripples through the whole design," says Dennis Whyte, a professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and director of MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center. "It changes the whole thing."


Climate change mitigation could actually increase water shortage in some areas rather than reduce it, according to new research. The source of the problem is clear: greater demand for biofuels, intended to reduce emissions from fossil fuels, requires massive increases in irrigation in productive but relatively arid American farmland.

Random-access memory, or RAM, is where computers like to store the data they're working on because a processor can retrieve data from RAM tens of thousands of times faster than from the computer's disk drive.


Using biofuel is one way to decrease the United States' dependence on oil. And switchgrass is an excellent candidate for biofuel production. It is an adaptable plant that can grow on millions of acres of U.S. lands that cannot support crop or food production. It is also a renewable resource but growing it and making it profitable can be complicated. 

It lacks qualities, such as high biomass yield, needed to maximize biofuel production. Alternative breeding methods may be the answer.


Researchers have developed a functioning organic solar cell consisting of a single component has been produced on the basis of metal-organic framework compounds (MOFs). The material is highly elastic and might also be used for the flexible coating of clothes and deformable components. 

Metal-organic frameworks, briefly called MOFs, consist of two basic elements, metal node points and organic molecules, which are assembled to form microporous, crystalline materials. For about a decade, MOFs have been attracting considerable interest of researchers, because their functionality can be adjusted by varying the components.

The aviation industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2011 aviation contributed around 3% of Australia’s emissions. Despite improvements in efficiency, global aviation emissions are expected to grow 70% by 2020 from 2005. While the industry is seeking new renewable fuel sources, growing biofuels takes up valuable land and water that could be otherwise used to grow food.

But what if you could grow biofuels on land nobody wants, using just seawater and sunlight, and produce food at the same time?